Opponents jumped all over something that Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren said last week at the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions hearing. The video of her remarks started circulating and according to The Huffington Post on March 19, many are claiming that she actually proposed raising the minimum wage to $22 an hour.
No, in fact, that is not what she said at all, so all of the people who are bashing her for it are completely in the wrong. What she said was that if the minimum wage had been indexed to productivity gains in 1960, that it would currently be $22 an hour.
However, that hasn’t stopped the bashers from declaring that such a move could completely ruin the already-fragile economy. They have completely misconstrued what she said (deliberately, one wonders?) in order to push forth their own argument that raising the minimum wage would choke off the current economic recovery. Intellectual dishonesty is a terrible way to cause both fear and greed among the common people.
She also questioned Dr. Arindrajit Dube, a University of Massachusetts Amherst professor who has studied the economic impacts of minimum wage, about the actual increases in productivity since 1960 versus the increases in minimum wage. Dr. Dube commented that if the minimum wage had increased commensurate with the top 1% of earners, then the minimum wage would by $33 today.
Warren’s reference to $22 an hour was not a proposal that the government consider such an increase, merely a demonstration of how unfair the current minimum wage level really is. The current proposal, set forth by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), is for the level to be raised in steps over the next two years to $10.52, which is a proposal that President Obama supports.